At ten years old, Sharefa Gooding is a shadow of who she was just three years ago. The Lawrence T Gay Memorial Primary student was diagnosed with a cyst on her liver in 2014, and within three years it has grown bigger than a cricket ball in size.
Daily, Sharefa experiences excruciating pain in her abdomen, limiting her inability to eat or play freely, as any ten-year-old girl should.
In the last school term alone, the Class Three student missed 49 days due to her illness. Unable to take her medication on the school premises, her mother Trina Gooding has resorted to taking care of her daughter at their Alleyne’s Land, Bush Hall, St Michael home.
Life is already quite tough for the unemployed mother as it is. She suffers from schizophrenia and also has to take care of her 15-year-old son who exhibits suicidal tendencies.
“I’m getting tired of seeing her in pain all the time, it’s stressing me out,” Gooding told Barbados TODAY.
“When she is in here and having pains, I wait till she goes to sleep and I start to cry myself, because there is no one else to help me.”
The 34-year-old mother has lost count of the number of nights over the past three years that she has had to comfort her daughter as she screamed through the agonizing pain much too severe to bear, or the number of times she has had to take Sharefa to the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in a desperate search for relief.
“She would start screaming out, grabbing onto my hand and whatever she can grab onto, until the pain goes away . . . .
“I took her to Accident & Emergency Old Year’s night, she stayed til the New Year’s morning,” Gooding recounted.
The primary school student currently takes Cataflam and Panadol to control the pain, as well as medicine for her severe acid reflux and allergies. She was also taking morphine injections, but that was quickly discontinued due to the side effects such as dizziness, incoherent speech and nervousness, the mother said.
In addition to the cyst on her liver, Sharefa suffers from scoliosis and upper gastro-intestinal bleeding. So terrified is she of the pain, she has virtually stopped eating.
“She wasn’t this size, the cyst got her sucked away,” her despondent mother said.
Sharefa’s older brother, who has frequent fits, often worries about his sister and cannot understand why she has not had surgery, the mother said.
“Sometimes when he sees her in pain, he starts worrying and crying and he does be wondering why they won’t be doing the surgery for his sister. It does be hard,” the mother of two said.
Sharefa was scheduled to have surgery earlier this week, but it has since been rescheduled to March after it was initially postponed to next week.
However, whenever it is held, it will not come soon enough for the ten-year-old and her despairing mum.
“She was supposed to see the surgeon [Wednesday] but they cancelled it to next week, and they called me again and told me it’s cancelled to March 29th at 2 p.m. So I asked them what to do with her and all the pain? The woman told me [take her to] Accident & Emergency,” Gooding reported.
“She has to bear pains all til down in March and that isn’t fair.”
Unable to work, Gooding must rely on a $90 cheque from the Welfare Department, far from enough to pay for utilities, purchase the basic necessities and cover the medical costs.
However, she told Barbados TODAY friends and concerned neighbours have been chipping in to help cover the children’s medical fees.
“I don’t even have bus fare to get down [to the doctor]. I does have to use money from my neighbours, sometimes my boyfriend would give me money,” Gooding remarked.
Virtually overwhelmed by her burdens, Gooding simply wants her daughter to live a normal life once again, like she did just three short years ago.
“My main thing is doing that for her to get back her normal school life . . . . She just wants it to be over because she misses school and misses her friends,” the mother said.